SuttaCentral

Retreat recommendations in southern USA?

i was thinking about signing up with this organization for a 10day meditation retreat Vipassana Meditation

anyone know if it is a good organization, or anyone know of a better one to sign up with?

if it matters, i am early buddhist, theravada-leaning but not a proponent of the commentaries or abhidhamma

my favorite author is ven katukurunde ñanananda, and i have picked up some influence from madhyamaka and ajahn chah…

i know it’s a lot to be picky with regard to teachers. that’s why if there is some place that can just host a retreat without force-feeding dogma then i can vibe with it perhaps

i will have 12 days of paid time off, which i can spread out over about three weeks if necessary

[i don’t post much on this forum, so if i am in the wrong section please move it for me]

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May we know where you are based?

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Greetings Sovatthika
There has been quite a lot of discussions about Goenka in the forum.
Below is a link to numerous threads on this subject
You can do a quick search of the site to see if things have been discussed before by using the search function in the top menu bar :slight_smile:

https://discourse.suttacentral.net/search?q=goenka

There is also a thorough discussion about this style or interpretation of ‘mindfulness’ meditation from the perspective of the Early Buddhist Texts in Ajahn Brahmalis latest workshop series on Satipatthana. I believe it is in the 3rd workshop. You can find the links and details below

Best wishes for your journey :pray: :slight_smile:

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North Little Rock, Arkansas

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Done! :smiley:

Sorry that I can’t help with the USA. @Nadine are you around atm?

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Hi Sovatthika, I did my first long retreat with them (not in the USA) and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Moving along the path I then preferred monasteries.

The only thing I didn’t like was that, as soon people were allowed to speak after those 10 days, they did - loud! I just left straight away after cleaning :grin:

Enjoy your journey and retreat, wherever your path leads you :sunflower::pray:

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Yeah. Many monastics even got their start with Goenka. Just don’t take their polemics too seriously: there are many, perfectly fine forms of meditation outside their idiosyncratic system. But wherever you go: follow the instructions while you’re there. Save the reflection for after.

Best of luck! Wishing you a good retreat, wherever you go! :relaxed:

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You rang? :smiley:

I don’t have experience with that group. OP could look into Southern Dharma Retreat Center https://www.southerndharma.org/. They have a variety of teachers use the center over the year. Maybe OP will see one that looks interesting.

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I think the techniques they provide are for the most part pretty solid. But I’ve heard that some of the behaviour of goenka centers tends to be less than ideal. One of the biggest criticisms I hear is that there is a lack of trained staff in many of his centers. There’s also a tendency towards making fun of other religions and their comparative practices, and allegedly Goenka has something of an ego. Some lesser criticisms are discomfort with the Buddhist nature of the things being taught (ie; disliking the sending of metta to ghosts and devas).

I haven’t been to one of his centers so I can’t verify if this is true or not, just that this is what Ive commonly seen about him.

AFAIK Goenka centers tend to also eschew towards some more cultish aspects, including an encouragement to cut off all outside contact for as long as you’re in the center. Your belongings and valuables taken with you are donated to the retreat manager so you cannot leave during the middle of the retreat, and you have a vow of silence enforced on you. According to goenka, this mimics the life of a monk…

There’s been records of people who need to leave during retreat for medical or other emergencies and being treated fairly badly by retreat staff.

I personally would recommend maybe looking into the ecumenical Buddhist society in little rock and asking them about retreat centers. I haven’t been there, but they seem like a good bunch from what I can tell.

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perhaps you meant skew?

And yes, they are well known for those things and believe me they do not mimic the life of a monk, at least not in a good way. It’s true that our mind may convince us we should leave a place when in fact we should try and endure. However, it shouldn’t be the place of someone else to prevent us from leaving a situation we are not finding helpful. OP, if you do decide to go to a retreat with these folks, don’t let them gaslight you and don’t let them bully you into staying.

And don’t forget that the Buddha forbade his monks from making a group vow of silence when they are trying to convince you that their methods are a pure representation of what the Buddha taught.

Many people have had positive experiences at their centres, and you may too. However, just be aware that if things don’t go well for you that the staff there may not support you in the way that you would like.

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Yes! Thank you, couldn’t remember the word for the life of me.

Seconding this. Goenka retreats are a bit of a strange area from what I can gather. Sometimes they’re very lovely, and sometimes they just aren’t at all. This is where the lack of structure within the teachers shows.

Snowbird is right, the Buddha also didn’t like his monks to cut off contact with normal lay people outside of the sangha too. This includes their family, from what I remember.

:pray:

The Buddha certainly didn’t recommend cutting off contact with lay people and family indefinitely, but what’s being mentioned here is a ten-day retreat.

Would the Buddha have frowned on a ten-day silent retreat voluntarily undertaken @snowbird?

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Thank you for these two suggestions. This directory may be of use:

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I think he would have frowned on a ten day silent retreat of the type I feel morally obligated to warn people about.

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What type of retreat would he frown on ?

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Wanderers who follow other paths advocate this kind of seclusion: They wear robes of hemp, … human hair, horse hair, or owls’ wings… They eat herbs, millet, … scum from boiling rice, sesame flour, grass, or cow dung. They survive on forest roots or fallen fruit.

  • AN 3.93
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If it’s ok, I am also curious about why you would like to do retreat (as opposed to locking yourself in a room and following a meditation schedule).

Is it about…

…being in a particular place in a particular environment?
…having access to a particular style of teaching or a particular group?
…the schedule?
…the whole package?

Because if you just want to meditate and have some time and at least a few $$$ you could just rent a place or camp somewhere with a lower dogma content.

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A friend attended a Goenka retreat here in Ontario Canada. When she wanted to attend again, they asked her if she had been talking with monks from a different tradition. Of course she answered honestly yes, and was not allowed to attend.

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I do that these days and I think it’s excellent advices for some folks. But when I was beginning meditation, I found the support of the retreat structure and the input from the teachers invaluable.

That was when there was no internet so finding appropriate input was harder, but there’s still something about the energy raised by a group of strong meditators sitting together that is valuable to experience.

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My first retreat was also in this Goenka tradition, and I did quite few subsequent ones. Like @Alex70 , I’ve moved on to the Sangha and now rely mostly on Ajahn Cha and his students and students of his students:-)

That said, @sovatthika in the US, I’m not aware of any better first time retreats, IMO. I can also recommend Shaila Catherine’s retreats – I’ve been to two and found them very helpful. However, those retreats are not free like Goenka’s if cost is a big factor for you. Hope this helps.

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